Teach the Earth > Geomorphology > Teaching Activities > Discharge Measurement of Streamflow

Discharge Measurement of Streamflow

Ellen Cowan
Appalachian State University
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jul 25, 2008


Students travel to a stream on campus and measure streamflow by two methods: current meter and float. They are asked to compare their data and make observations of bed and banks of the stream.

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Undergraduate course in geomorphology with a 3-hour lab.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered


How the activity is situated in the course

Conducted as the second lab activity


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Learn about USGS discharge measurements and what they are used for. Learn about the characteristics of a representative channel cross section. Make a discharge measurement.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Collection of basic data. Making field observations and recording them. Evaluation of data collected.

Other skills goals for this activity

Working in groups in the field.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are divided into small groups. Each group chooses a channel cross section and makes a discharge measurement both using a current meter and a surface float. Students share the data collected in the lab but each student calculates discharge on their own and answers related questions.
Designed for a geomorphology course

Determining whether students have met the goals

Data sheets and answers to questions are turned in the next week during lab.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Buchanan, T.J. and Someres, W.P., 1969, Discharge measurements at gaging stations: Techniques of Water-resources investigations of the United States Geological Survey, Chapter 8A, Book 3, 65 p.

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